BSH Home Appliances broke ground on a $154 million factory expansion here last month that will dramatically increase its U.S. production output.
The company said that the additional capacity, combined with the new facility's state-of-the-art production technology, will enable its Bosch, Thermador and Gaggenau brands to build market share.
"BSH has undertaken this expansion to meet the increasing demand for our products in the North American white goods market and to meet our objective to be the primary supplier of high-end appliances," said president/CEO Hans-Peter Haase at the groundbreaking ceremony.
The expansion represents the lion's share of a $200 million investment announced last year by German corporate parent BSH, which still sees "huge potential" in the U.S. and Canadian markets.
The North American unit has been producing dishwashers out of New Bern since 1997 and expects the second phase of its 100-acre BSH Home Appliance Park to begin producing Bosch ranges, a new product category, early in 2003. A limited number of Bosch ventilation products, including vents and blowers, will be added later that year, and washers and dryers will follow during the third phase of the expansion.
Output will eventually encompass cooktops and range hoods following the full expansion, which is expected to take about five years to complete. By then, the New Bern facility will employ some 1,800 workers, up from the current 400 level. BSH also operates manufacturing plants in LaFollette, Tenn., and Vernon, Calif.
In other BSH news, the company has entered the floor care and small appliance business by launching a Bosch line of upright and canister vacuum cleaners, coffee machines, blenders and citrus juicers. The top-of-the-line canister entry, dubbed Ultra, features a 12-amp motor, 13-inch power head, a charcoal/HEPA filter and a patented noise-suppressing design for quiet operation. The Ultra is set to ship this July.
Its little brother, the 11-amp CompactPlus canister, weighs just 13 pounds and features an "ergogrip" handle, electronic suction power control and maximum mobility, thanks to its large rear wheels and front swivel wheel.
Bosch is also offering a pair of 12-amp uprights in conventional dust bag and cyclonic configurations.
"Bosch is respected worldwide for its large domestic appliances," Haase noted. "We are extending that expertise into a new range of kitchen products because today's consumers demand high quality and strong value. This is precisely what Bosch offers with our new line of exceptionally designed small appliances."